Spectrum-sharing agreement jumps the gun on Malaysian LTE auctions

A new spectrum-sharing arrangement is underway in Malaysia, with market leading mobile operator Maxis rolling out LTE using 2.3GHz spectrum licensed to WiMAX provider Asiaspace.

The reportedly “preliminary” agreement will allow Maxis to begin offering LTE ahead of the auctions for the 2.6GHz spectrum reserved for LTE deployments, which will be held in 2013. 2.3GHz spectrum is reserved for WiMAX but can be used for LTE.

The infrastructure buildout and network operation will reportedly be handled by Maxis. Asiaspace meanwhile will aim to improve its capacity following the suspension of its existing network in September last year – escalating backhaul expenses were a key cause of this suspension.

Although associated with WiMAX, there are other signs that Asiaspace could be abandoning this technology in favour of LTE. At around the time that it suspended its network, the firm entered into an arrangement with Qualcomm to “explore the future deployment” of LTE.

In addition to this arrangement with Asiaspace, Maxis is conducting LTE trials in conjunction with Huawei. The WiMAX provider’s failure to resume services has ignited concerns that it could lose its currently held spectrum.

Despite this, Asiaspace and Maxis are both considered likely candidates to be awarded 2.6GHz spectrum when it is allocated in January 2013. According to the Malaysian government, a 20MHz block of spectrum frequencies will be awarded to each of the nine winning candidates.

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